It’s been flying under the proverbial local radar for several months, but this Knoxville start-up will draw regional and national attention beginning next week as one of the new companies spotlighted in Nashville at the multi-state “Southland” conference hosted by LaunchTN.
The company, named Do 5 Things, bills itself on its webpage (http://www.do5things.com/) as “a marketing optimization platform for utilities looking to increase rebate redemptions and encourage behavior change.”
It is, in reality, a SaaS (software as a solution) start-up built on the long-standing work in energy efficiency and sustainability undertaken by the Shelton Group, a Knoxville-based marketing and communications firm. Utilities are a core customer of the parent firm, and Do 5 Things is focused on that segment.
“We identified a trend three years ago where people embrace two to three energy efficiency improvements, but don’t see the return they expected,” said Patrick Hunt, Shelton’s Vice President of Digital, who is shepherding the new venture. “Customer satisfaction with the utility improves if we can get them to undertake at least five projects.”
He explained energy efficiency is big business for utilities. In the United States alone, Hunt said utility firms spend “north of $15 billion now and the number will grow even more in the years ahead.”
These investments are made for two reasons. First, utilities are required to do so because of federal, state and/or local mandates. Second, they need to manage their peak demand – hot days and cold days.
“They’ve been at this for five to 10 years,” Hunt noted with California obviously being one of the earliest states to adopt mandates.
The SaaS system that Do 5 Things has developed is designed to engage customers in energy efficiency and motivate them to do more. Hunt describes it as a “marketing optimization platform,” something that can help utilities achieve their dual goals.
“We’ve developed a proprietary algorithm to categorize people into one of four segments,” he said. “We understand what motivates each segment.”
Do 5 Things will work with each utility client to develop and communicate the appropriate message based on the customer segment and what best motivates that group.
“We know better than anyone how to communicate with these segments,” Hunt says of the long-standing work of the Shelton Group. The approach has been proven for individual clients. “The platform allows us to systemize our approach,” he adds.
There are several advantages of the SaaS tool for the utility customers. “They get 24/7 real time visibility into how the platform is working,” Hunt explained. This means they can test different messages, see what works best, and rapidly deploy the optimal message.
“The utility is our customer,” he says. “It is 100 percent white-labeled software for them,” meaning each client can integrate it into the utility’s existing brand.
Do 5 Things has a provisional patent for the software.
“We’re looking at a broader product offering than just this,” Hunt says, acknowledging that it’s been a whirlwind for Do 5 Things in the last few months.
In addition to the “Southland” opportunity next week, Hunt learned late last week that Do 5 Things has been selected to participate in this year’s “Cleantech Open,” which involves regional events leading to a year-end national competition. This was a significant accomplishment, considering he had two days to apply after learning of the event.
There’s also a late June local event where Do 5 Things will present its technology, meaning the start-up will have three opportunities in the next few months to showcase its concept to investors.
“Our goal is to raise our first round of capital by the end of 2013 and really start to scale the business in 2014,” Hunt says proudly, exhibiting his characteristic enthusiasm. “We are already booking revenue and have a good new business pipeline.”